So Now What?

Perhaps you have been following along with us and have been reading the Bible through and now you are trying to figure out what to do in 2018.  Maybe the gap was too great between the sky of your intentions and the ground of your reality and you didn’t quite make it through the Bible this past year.

From the very beginning of this journey, my goal was not for people to check something off of a to-do list, but to develop the discipline of spending time in God’s Word.  Too often Christians profess their love for God, but are ignorant of his word.  Another way to say it is that it was never about “quantity of time, but quality of time.”  There is nothing in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt read five chapters a day,” but there is much that calls us to a regular study of God’s Word.

This coming year I will not be posting the daily devotionals.  I do hope to post thoughts from time to time on a variety of topics.  What I have written will remain on the website for anyone wants to refer to the posts again.  Let me suggest some options for people who are looking for direction as they continue the discipline of reading God’s Word.

  • For those who want to read through the Bible in a year here is a suggested calendar.
  • Here is a proposed outline for reading through the Bible in a year where it is organized in a chronological fashion
  • The Robert Murray M’Cheyne reading plan goes through the Old Testament every two years and through the New Testament and Psalms every year.  Don Carson has published two volumes that go through this reading plan and provide daily readings (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2).  Readings are also available online.
  • One option that I have done in the past is to take a book and focus on it for a month or so (depending on the length of the book).  For instance, you could read the book of Galatians every day for a month.  Perhaps you want to take a couple of weeks to read the book of Isaiah and then repeat the process multiple times.  Maybe you want to read through the Gospel of John every week for a month.  This method really allows you to soak in the readings and meditate on what you are reading.
  • Some people want to read through the Bible at their own pace.  Here is a nice chart where you can keep track of your progress.
  • If you are looking to read the Bible with someone who is new to the process I would suggest the 5x5x5 plan.  In this plan you read through the New Testament in a year by reading 5 days a week for 5 minutes a day.

Obviously, there are many ways you can read your Bible, and the only wrong way is to fail to read it at all.

In this new year may God bless you as you seek to know him more and more through the reading of His Word.  May it light your path as you follow Him.

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Revelation 19-22

So much time is spent trying to figure out the minutiae of Revelation that the glory of the book is often missed.  Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing to those who read it (1:3).  What is the blessing of reading the book of Revelation?  It is the promise of the book of Revelation.  Revelation ends where the Bible began.  Once again humanity is in a garden with the tree of life feeding God’s people, but this time there will be no rebellion.  That rebellion was what caused humanity to be expelled from the garden, but because the Lamb was sacrificed and we overcame by his blood we are promised that forever we “will see his face” (22:4).  Forever God will reign and forever we will be with him.  God is gracious and forever we will have the privilege of celebrating that grace.

Some thoughts to prayerfully consider:

  • John says that the vision he received demanded that he worship God (22:9).  How does Revelation compel you to worship God?
  • Jesus said I am coming soon (22:20).  It has been almost 2,000 years since this book was written, how is that soon?  Are you ready?  Do you say “Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!”?

Revelation 15-18

The Great Prostitute of Revelation 17 is a picture of the way that Satan tempts Christians to chase pleasure and luxury rather than holiness.  Frankly, the reason that we sin is because we want to.  We sin because we find it alluring.  The prostitute is pictured wearing fine clothes and expensive jewelry.  While there is great persecution of Christians going on in much of the world, Western Christians need to be most on guard against seduction with wealth and pleasure.  Some even go so far as to define God’s will and character by them.

From the very beginning Satan has tempted people to try and find pleasure outside of God’s pleasure and will.  Being consumed with pleasure leads to a slow, numbing death (17:6)

Some thoughts to prayerfully consider:

  • Do you believe that all God’s actions are just and true (16:7)?  Do you agree with him by your actions about what is good and what is futile?
  • Everything contrary to holy living will one day be destroyed (18:2).  Why do we spend so much time chasing stuff that will not last (18:4)?   What do you spend time, energy, and money on that won’t last into eternity?  Is it worth it?

Revelation 11-14

The 144,000 (i.e. the people of God/Christians) are described as “those who did not defile themselves with women” (14:4).  This speaks of the purity that marks God’s people.  Demonstrating that this is not just to be understood as a physical statement, this is equated with “in their mouth no lie was found” (14:5).  Throughout the Bible idolatry is often equated with fornication or adultery.  This speaks of loyalty to Christ.  God’s people are those who follow the lamb wherever he goes (14:4).

Such loyalty flows from having been redeemed.  Redeemed humans can sing a song that not even angels can sing, a song of worship for having been redeemed.  John includes our loyalty to God in this worship service reminding his readers that the greatest act of worship any of us contribute to God is our very lives.

Some thoughts to prayerfully consider:

  • There is a lot of praise in the Heavenly scenes of Revelation, for example 11:17-18.  How regularly do you stop and praise God?  Is praise a regular part of your prayer life?  Do you celebrate God’s works frequently?
  • There is a mark of the Father demonstrating his ownership of the lives of those he has redeemed (14:1).  How does your life demonstrate that you belong to God?

Revelation 6-10

Revelation 7 gives believers confidence to know that they will be able to live forever in the presence of God.  The saints are wearing white because they have been washed by the blood of the lamb (7:14).  Our righteousness is not intrinsic to us, but has been gifted to us by Christ.  Because we are clothed in his righteousness we are reminded that our standing with God is dependent on what Christ has done.

Notice too, that those clothed in white are holding palm branches (7:9).  This recalls the Feast of Booths (Lev. 23:40).  This feast celebrated God’s provision for and protection of Israel during their time in the wilderness on the way to the Promised land.  John’s vision is God’s promise that he will be with his people now as we too are heading to a land promised to us.  Just as God provided his people with his presence in the wilderness (7:15), provided for their needs (7:16), and shepherded them (7:17) he will again meet the needs of his people.

Some thoughts to prayerfully consider:

  • There is a scroll that is to be eaten and it made the stomach bitter, but it was sweet as honey (10:9-10).  That is to say that the message given by God contained bad news, but because it is from him provides a communion with him.  How does even tough news from God provide a “sweetness” to our soul?

Revelation 1-5

The vision of God’s glory in Revelation 4-5 is the very center of the book.  It sets the stage for everything that is to follow.  God is setting on the throne.  As we read Revelation we cannot forget this.  Everything that is to come in the book is anchored by this idea that God is on his throne.  There are hard times in life for those who follow Christ—and as a result of following Christ.

The vision of Jesus is vital to understand the book.  He is the lamb looking as if he has been slain.  God would achieve his victory in the weakness of the cross.  Christ’s achievement also sets the pattern for Christians.  We do not fight our spiritual battles with military, political, or physical strength, but through endurance.  Perhaps, in some cases, endurance to death is necessary.  The world does not understand how such weakness can overcome (cf. Rev. 12:11).

Some thoughts to prayerfully consider:

  • What does it mean that the church at Laodicea was neither cold nor hot (3:15)?  How can Christians avoid having a lukewarm existence?
  • At the throne of Christ there are people of every tribe, language, people, and nation.  If Heaven is going to be so diverse, why do so many Christians move toward people who are like them?  How can we help our churches better reflect the diversity of Heaven?

Jude

False doctrine is dangerous to the church and to Christians.  Jude calls on Christians to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.  In saying that it is once delivered, it should be assumed that the truth does not change or evolve over time.  By definition, truth must be universal and timeless.

We must understand why truth is to be defended so vigorously.  While the gospel leads to righteousness, false teaching leads to immorality.  Most dangerous though is that false teaching keeps people from Christ.  Christians should be wary of false teaching because it keeps them from growing in the faith and looking to Christ’s coming.  The greatest way we contend for the faith is through our own perseverance and righteousness (20-21).

Some thoughts to prayerfully consider:

  • Jude calls on his readers to have mercy on those who follow false teaching (22-23).  When you disagree with people is you goal rescue or condemnation and winning an argument?
  • Do you believe that there is no one beyond redemption?  Do you act like you believe that there is no one beyond redemption?